Having a baby brings a lot of love, joy, and new experiences to the life of a couple. That baby also brings a bunch of newly necessary “stuff” that can quickly fill up even the most spacious of homes. However, when you live in a small space, figuring out what stuff is truly necessary and what is too much is one of the first major challenges expectant parents will tackle.
When I first found out I was pregnant, my husband and I were overjoyed. Quickly that joy turned to sheer panic when we looked around at our one bedroom apartment in New York City and realized that our newest roommate didn’t have a bedroom, or even really a corner, to call his own. Where were we going to put a crib, a changing table, toys, clothes, swings, boppies, bumbos, and every other oddly named necessity on the Babies “R” Us registry checklist? The list of items that people told us were “necessary” for our newborn and for our sanity was seemingly endless. We quickly decided that in order for us to continue living in our rent-stabilized one bedroom that we loved (and that was a financial necessity) we needed to drown out the noise, and research what items we really needed and figure out how we could find them in a smaller size.
After exhaustive research and many second guesses, we found some small space solutions that are inexpensive and will work for even the most square foot-deprived parent. Below are some ideas for the major items you will need:
Unless you are comfortable clearing out a drawer for your little one, you will need to invest in a place for your newborn to sleep. Co-sleepers and bassinets can offer a small-sized temporary solution, however we were looking for a piece of furniture that would sustain our son for as long as possible. The minicrib was the perfect solution and most major furniture companies make them. Close to half the size of a full-sized crib but with the same amenities, a minicrib also comes in convertible options that allow you to make it into a toddler bed and get more for your money. Another viable option for many parents is to use a Pack ‘N Play instead of a crib, especially one with an attachable bassinet and changing station.
- Changing Tables:
Instead of buying a new piece of furniture, many parents put a contoured pad on top of a low dresser and call it a day. Unfortunately, my husband and I don’t have a low dresser so we needed to find another option. After almost deciding that we didn’t need one at all (which would still be a viable option) we found two possibilities from Ikea that work great for apartment living. The Antilop changing table is wall-mounted and folds up after each use. The Spoling changing table folds out like a luggage rack for easy transfer around your home.
Far and away, the swing’s praises were shouted from the mountaintops by friends of ours with newborns. Large and cumbersome, I thought there was no way to fit one in any of the three rooms of our apartment. Then I found the travel swing. Low to the ground and portable, the travel swing will move from room to room easily and can be set up anywhere. Also, it’s about half the price of a full-sized swing. Both Boppy and Fisher Price have versions on the market.
- Baby bath:
From what I hear, babies can be slippery little suckers so I deemed it necessary to find a bath tub for what I can only imagine are the frequent bathings a newborn needs. Most of the tubs I found were large and looked impossible to store in limited space. The Puj baby tub, by Puj LLC, solves both of these problems. Small, pliable, and able to store flat by hanging on the wall, the Puj forms to even the smallest of sinks.
In an urban area, the stroller will be your baby’s primary mode of transportation, but with so many flashy options on the market today, it’s hard not to get carried away with stroller envy. However, finding one that is lightweight with a compact fold and has the ability to attach an infant car seat is the holy grail of small space dwellers. Luckily, these strollers do exist today and can make storage and handling a breeze. We decided to go with the Maxi-Cosi Perle because of price and wheel durability. However, other choices include the Graco LiteRider, Peg Perego Si, Zooper Waltz as well as many others.
Along with the necessities above, we found a lot of the “must-haves” were completely unnecessary for our situation. We did not need to register for a baby monitor like most parents. We figure we will be lucky if we go one evening without hearing our baby’s every movement. A playard would be redundant and bottle sterilizers and warmers would take up precious counter space.
Though our situation is unique, there are some perks to stripping down to the bare essentials of baby gear. It helps to keep from getting overwhelmed with worrying about procuring things for the big life change that is about to happen and makes you realize that all your baby truly needs is love…and at least a drawer to sleep in.